Withdrawal and Physical Dependence
As a synthetic opioid, Suboxone is used to treat addiction to stronger opiates like heroin, fentanyl, or morphine. Its main ingredient is buprenorphine, which acts on the central nervous system and occupies specific nerve receptors that produce euphoria and feelings of well-being. In this way, it can both block the feeling of getting high…and “turn down” the volume of cravings.
But, buprenorphine is a psychoactive drug itself. Regular use can lead to the development of Suboxone dependence, and even get you ‘hooked’. So, when you significantly lower/or cut off daily Suboxone dose after daily dosing for more than a few weeks, you will experience withdrawal. Since everyone reacts differently to the drug, this withdrawal can vary from person to person.
What can you expect? You’ll the basic points on preparing for Suboxone withdrawal in the text below. Then, you are welcomed to share your opinion in the comments section at the end.
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Generally, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as other opioid withdrawal symptoms. They mimic flu-like symptoms. But why does withdrawal occur in the first place? What’s the brain science behind the discomfort?
Suboxone affects the central nervous system by occupying those receptors that prevent euphoric feelings while blocking receptors to postpone symptoms of opiate/opioid withdrawal. Nevertheless, after using Suboxone for a period of time, the human system adopts the presence of the drug. In fact, the body has become dependent to Suboxone, and it feels normal only in the presence of the drug.
Experiencing Suboxone withdrawal means that the body is seeking homeostasis. During Suboxone withdrawal, the body gets rid of the drug. The main reason why withdrawal occurs is that the brain is trying to maintain balanced after the system has become Suboxone tolerant. It has adjusted by “speeding up” certain functions to account for the depressant effects triggered by Suboxone. Take away the drug, and these flu-like symptoms take some time to resolve.
Withdrawal symptoms occur when the Suboxone intake is lowered or quit completely. Usually, the first symptoms start about several hours after the last missed dose, and in comparison to other opioid withdrawals, these symptoms are not so intense. At the beginning, Suboxone symptoms are mild, but after 2-5 days, they reach their peak. Usually, symptoms of withdrawal lasts 7-10 days. But, since every person reacts differently on Suboxone, withdrawal could be different and could last from several weeks to month.
Some of the most reported symptoms experienced during Suboxone withdrawal include:
- body aches
- cold sweats
- flu-like symptoms
- mood swings
- poor appetite
- pupil dilation
- runny nose
- sleep disturbances
- watery eyes
The physical symptoms (no matter how unbearable), are often less frightening than the psychological symptoms. If you have stomach pains or headaches, there are certain things which can be done intuitively to cope. At the end if the pain does not go away, doctors will give you some medicine to ease it. Coping with the disconcerting psychological symptoms is considered to be more challenging.
As mentioned above, Suboxone withdrawal starts several hours after the last intake. Acute symptoms reach their peak 2-5 days after the last missed dose. Usually, withdrawal occurs for 7-10 days, but if a person who is struggling with Suboxone abuse for a longer period of time, some symptoms can take several weeks or months to resolve.
Recommendations for Coping
Experiencing Suboxone withdrawal can be uncomfortable and disruptive. In sum, we suggest that you be prepared and organized. Seek advice from an addiction specialist or a Suboxone addiction treatment program directly to guide you through the process. Or, talk with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist about latest medical suggestions.
The following recommendations can help you go through the whole process easily. In the end when in detox, your biggest weapon is knowledge and good preparation.
Recommendation #1: When you feel like you’re unable to cope with some symptoms ask for help. Withdrawal symptoms are unique and individual for every person. Although there is usually a standard list of symptoms, there is no rule that you have to go through the same symptoms. When things get hard, it’s best to reach out for help.
Recommendation #2: Make an individualized tapering calendar with your supervising physician, and stick to it. Organization and good planning are key assets to your success in withdrawal. If something surprises you, answer it with readiness.
Recommendation #3: Over-the-counter meds are helpful for undergoing symptoms of withdrawal more easily. Look into anti-diarrheal medicines, NSAIDS, and even creams to help with specific symptoms.
Recommendation #4: Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Withdrawal is accompanied by excessive sweats vomiting and diarrhea which could lead to serious health complications. Drinking plenty of hydrating fluids during Suboxone withdrawal is very important. Electrolyte solutions can help you stay hydrated.
Recommendation #5: Think about using mind and body therapies to focus all your energies on your recovery. Meditation, breathing techniques and mindfulness are useful tools naturally coping with anxiety and stress during withdrawal.
Recommendation #6: Go for walks and interact with nature. External aids are valuable during hard times in detox. Some people have found that despite there is an inability to elicit positive feelings, they can be triggered by relaxing music, book, a gentle swim or a short walk in the park.
Recommendation #7: Practice positive self-talk and affirmations. Thoughts of fear and despair are quite common during withdrawal. Sometimes these thoughts can overcrowd the mind and it can be challenging to return to rational thinking. Having a prepared monologue of positive self-talk can distract you from drifting back to depressive moods.
Regardless of how discontent you might feel, always remember that the source of the problem is being repaired (receptor are fighting to reestablish balance back). With time, symptoms will resolve. Be patient and persistent.
This text only covers the basics about quitting Suboxone and the associated withdrawal symptoms. But, if you still have any questions and/or concerns, do not hesitate to ask us in the comments section at the end or via contact us page. All your comments are welcomed and appreciated. In fact, we try to respond to all legitimate inquiries as soon as possible.